City Schools of Decatur accreditation renewedCity Schools of Decatur Administrative Offices. Photo by Dena Mellick
City Schools of Decatur has received word from AdvancED that the school system’s accreditation has been renewed for another five years.
“It basically means that we can remain as a public school district issuing diplomas to our students as part of the state of Georgia educational system,” Superintendent David Dude said.
Accreditation is a basic measure of a school system’s credibility, but it is by no means a given. Like credibility, once it’s lost or threatened, it’s not easy to get back. DeKalb County Schools put its accreditation in jeopardy because board members meddled in administrative affairs and administrators misappropriated funds. It took DeKalb County years to become fully accredited again.
But while DeKalb has struggled to maintain basic standards, Decatur has struggled to cope with its own success. CSD has high graduation rates and test scores, making it the most desirable in-town school system. Decatur’s property values have risen accordingly, as has student enrollment.
Dude said the accreditation team from AdvancED complimented CSD on its farm-to-school program and its International Baccalaureate curriculum, among other things. The team also identified areas for improvement. The team recommended CSD adopt a formal mentoring program for new staff, assign an adult advocate for every student (as Dude explained it, “Making sure every single student has an adult that is assigned to check in on them and make sure they’re progressing”) and developing a transition plan for moving students from the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center to Kindergarten.
Dude added that, “A lot of the feedback from them was, ‘You’re doing it already. You need it written out, need to document it, make it something more formal’ which isn’t unusual for smaller school districts.”
The review team also recommended CSD update its strategic plan, which it is in the process of doing.
“Of course accreditation is really important, naturally,” Dude said. “I don’t think there was ever a question that Decatur wouldn’t be accredited. It’s a great way to kick off our strategic planning process by having a third party come in and review our practices and give us feedback on our strengths and opportunities for improvement.”